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Diarist app - My entry for the #TwilioHackathon

cruano profile image Carlos Ruano (he/him) Updated on ・3 min read

What I built

Diarist is an app to help you update your Journal directly from Whatsapp.
To use it you need to do the following:

  1. Create an account by providing your phone number
    Registration

  2. You'll receive a whatsapp message from us asking you How was your day today?, just reply to it and we'll save your response
    Welcome
    Whatsapp

  3. When you want to see your old entries, just log into the website or consume from the REST API.
    Journal

Why is this better than an app or an old-fashioned notebook ?

  • A common recommendation when starting a diary is to write as if you were writing to a friend, so what if the platform you used to do that was the very same one ?
  • You don't have to install anything, it's literally just a number you text.

Demo Link

Since there's still some functionality missing from the app (e.g. proper user management, I don't have an approved whatsapp business account, etc.) I've decided not to host it just yet, so I recorded a short video showing the functionality:

I hope you forgive my bad editing skills and dull voice over 🙈

Link to Code

GitHub logo caruano95 / diarist

Journaling made simple

Diarist

Journaling made simple.

How it works:

  1. Create an account
  2. You get a whatsapp message asking How was your day today?
  3. You reply to the text with all your adventures
  4. That's it !

Once you feel like reading some of your old entries you can go to the webapp or consume from the rest API to get your messages formatted and time-stamped It will also continue to send you a text every day so that you don't forget to update your diary.

About the app

A "Diarist" is a person who writes a diary This app lets you send your journal updates via Whatsapp and view them on your browser Note that:

If you are curious about the future, inspirations…

How I built it

I did the first draft of the app using the Concepts app which you can see on the repo docs

Once I had a more clear idea I started looking at Twilio's examples and I found this Appointment reminders java spark app which seemed like a good baseline to build the project on top off.

In the end I used the Spark micro-framework for everything from the rest API to the frontend, as well as the Mustache template engine. I also use a MySQL instance to store all of the users journal entries.

Inspiration for the app

  • I've been thinking about diaries since I saw that Loretta superbowl commercial from Google (If you haven't seen it, go do that now, it's really good).
  • The Mellow Days youtube channel is probably my goal as to how I want the interface to look

A better description of the app

I like to think it's split in 3 separate functions:

  1. A journal 'prompt'. This is the whatsapp message you get everyday. It's purpose is both to remind you to write every day and also to inspire some responses (There's a difference between "Remember to write your diary" and "What was the best part of your day?")
  2. A journal manager, to CRUD all of your journal entries
  3. A (not so) fancy journal viewer to read your old entries. Currently it's very simple but my vision for it includes different themes and tools to edit your entries

What's next for the Diarist app ?

I already have some ideas but we'll see what the future brings (If you want to collaborate or bounce off more ideas I would appreciate the input):

  • Add configurable journal prompts. I think figuring out what to write about it's really hard and asking the right questions always helps.
  • Add more ways to send updates. Email is an obvious candidate for the next integration.
  • Create an "On this day" feature like the one on Facebook. Journal entries are there to be remembered and although I'm not a Facebook user anymore I do miss that feature.
  • Make the notification schedule configurable. Do you want a message every day at 8 PM ? You got it! Do you want a message only on Sundays ? It's up to you
  • Create "themes" for the viewer. Mainly based around the stuff Mellow Days from youtube creates since I'm interested on the whole "Looks hand-drawn but it's actually generated digitally" kind of stuff
  • Normalize all of the stored data. I've seen some of the projects like Notable use markdown as a way to avoid vendor lock-in, which is a win for everyone IMO
  • Add an easy way to edit the journal entries. I'm sure I'm not the only that has twice as many typos when writing on my phone.
  • Add support for pictures (and other media). That old adage is true after all.

Posted on by:

cruano profile

Carlos Ruano (he/him)

@cruano

I’m a 24 y/o Software Engineer with lots of experience testing software applications, strong troubleshooting and analytical skills and passion for coding and building products.

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